Review: Happy Purim, Grover!

Happy Purim, Grover!

by Joni Kibort Sussman, illustrated by Tom Leigh

Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2024

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Julie Ditton

Buy at

Happy Purim, Grover! is a perfect Purim board book for Jewish toddlers. This book presents the familiar Sesame Street character as he celebrates Purim. Don’t expect the whole Megillah. This is a board book after all. But in just a few pages, little ones see these adorable characters doing all the things that they would do. After Grover bakes hamantaschen with his mommy, he celebrates with his friends. They deliver Purim goody baskets, dress up for the costume parade, listen to the Megillah reading and shake their groggers. Of course, they finish the day enjoying the fresh hamantaschen. Joni Sussman has included the key elements of the holiday that are important to the little ones.

Children will delight in the bright colorful pictures, created by Tom Leigh who has illustrated numerous Sesame Street and Muppet books. Sesame Street has been airing for 54 years and readers will all be familiar with Grover and possibly his mother. But they will probably not recognize the other characters in this book. Grover’s friends Abigail, Brosh and Moishe Oofnik (Oscar’s cousin) are from the television show Shalom Sesame. In 1983 “Rechov Sumsum” (רחוב סומסום), the Israeli version of Sesame Street premiered. An English version, Shalom Sesame, which was produced in 1986 and 1990 to explore Jewish topics, was syndicated on select public television stations. It was revived for one season in 2010 on PBS Kids. Kar-Ben books has a series of Shalom Sesame board books.

The author, Joni Sussman, has written several books in the Shalom Sesame series as well as “My First Yiddish Word Book”. However, she is better known in the industry for her work as a publisher. She was recently awarded with the Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award, which recognizes an author or entity who has made a substantial contribution over time to the genre of Jewish children’s literature. She has spent the past twenty years at Kar-Ben Publishing, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group. Kar-Ben is the leading publisher of Jewish children’s books and Sussman has been responsible for a vast array of Jewish children’s books for every age range from toddlers to Young Adult.

Although this board book is only a few pages long, it presents the key elements of Purim celebration in an age-appropriate manner. It is a perfect book for a Jewish child’s first home library and can be given as a gift at Purim. Because of the simple language and explanations, it can also be used to introduce Purim to non-Jews. With Jewish content for toddlers, it meets the criteria for the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the picture book category. 

Are you interested in reviewing books for The Sydney Taylor Shmooze? Click here!

Reviewer Julie Ditton posts reviews on her Storybook Lady Facebook page and on Instagram As her name would imply, her favorite genre is Children’s Literature. About half of the picture books that she reviews have Jewish themes. She has a shelf on Goodreads specifically for Jewish Children’s Books and is an active contributor to the Jewish Kidlit Mavens Facebook group.